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How Technology Has Given Me an Education Not Found in School

Posted by Rachel Evans on
How Technology Has Given Me an Education Not Found in School
How Technology Has Given Me an Education Not Found in School

How Technology Has Given Me an Education Not Found in School

Technology has changed my family and my life for the better 99% of the time. There are things I learn and used to help me with things like fixing electronics, getting educated at home, learning which apps work for us, and keeping our debt in check.

Learning How to Fix Electronics on the Fly

How technology has changed my life is for the better even with all the breakdowns, upgrades, and outages that go along with it. Not only am I a freelance worker who does more than just write, I have learned also how to troubleshoot the problems on my end before spending precious time on the phone with tech support. More often than not these days, I can fix the problem without additional help and money or a lot of money to correct an issue.

Getting an Education at Home

Working from home is just one of the reasons how technology has changed my life. Another way technology has helped my life is using the internet to educate myself on various topics while researching my work these days.

Also, my daughter was able to take a few of her college courses online. Even with the extra fee of $45 or so at the time, it was cheaper than driving to Wichita State University two to three times a week for a semester. Which saved me more money in the long run.

Apps, Apps, and More Apps

When I first started hearing about apps for smartphones, tablets, computers, and the latest flat screen TVS, I never thought I would be one of those people who used them. We have a few of those installed and have been able to eliminate the need for cable. While some of them do cost us each month, we have found we enjoy those apps far more than cable.

Paying Bills Online

My husband has become a huge fan of paying bills online. For him, this technology has been life changing for him. It helps us keep out bills more current and not having to worry about the payment getting lost in the mail. That has happened more than once to us.

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Can Technology Make Education Cool Again–Even History?

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Can Technology Make Education Cool Again–Even History?
Can Technology Make Education Cool Again--Even History?

Can Technology Make Education Cool Again–Even History?

Can Technology Make Learning Cool Again, Even History?

Kwanzaa, Unity-Principle #1, by JD Meyer

“Unity invites an alternative sense of solidarity, a peaceful togetherness as families, communities, and fellow human beings. It teaches us…the common ground of our humanity. But it also encourages us to be constantly concerned about its (the world’s) health and wholeness,” according to Dr. Maulana Karenga from the 2009 Founder’s Day Address. www.officialkwanzaasite.com All of these feelings require education to know about others. Yet today, we see declining education levels throughout the USA. Since desegregation, that academic underachievement is even worse in the African-American community. My question is “Can Technology Make Education Cool Again-Even History?” As a teacher who has been viewed as cool by former students, I feel that I can make a case for scholarly-as-cool.

We love computers and the Internet, so the opportunity for learning is at our fingertips. But do we choose the trivial and gossipy over scholarship and business? The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerman, was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.” Facebook has so many members that it would be the third largest country in the world. http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2036683_2037183_2037185,00.html There’s even a movie about this social networking mogul. Yet where else but Facebook can you endorse a fine service or market products versus ask folks personal questions or chat about things nobody’s boss should see.

My birth on the Internet was ten years ago, and I view it as one of the best events of my life. First of all, I must admit that it’s easier for me to read a bunch of little two to ten page articles rather than a fairly large book-probably an ADD thing. I love e-mailing associates a link to an article that I know they’ll like and make better use of than me. So technology and education make me cool when I send such messages.

Six Cool Education with Technology Topics

What are some of my favorite topics that make my self-education a cool thing for others? I bet you might like at least one of these subjects but probably not all of them. Moreover, I’ve found and disseminated a lot of knowledge on the Internet too.

(1) First, there’s English grammar and composition as found in my copyrighted, partly published Developmental English textbook. I like to write model essays about contemporary topics, and I include edited student essays, such as “My Favorite Music: Screwed, Chopped, Dirty South Rap.” Unfortunately, I’ve been told by publishers that many of essays are too regional, too Texas. Grammar is safer. I’ve been writing annotated link pages for English, as well as other subjects for years. And I just discovered photo sharing through Flickr on Yahoo, provided you find an Attribution-only citation at the Creative Commons. That means your homemade textbook or unit can be illustrated!

(2) I’ve studied Psychological Type Theory for over twenty years; that includes Myers Briggs Type Indicator, the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, and True Colors. You’ll understand yourself and others through the four-by-four matrices and four temperaments. For example, I’m an ENFP-Champion/Idealist; the literature predicts that I’d like English and journalism for a career. Here’s a case of book sense helping your common sense.

(3) What’s my mid-life interest since moving to Tyler in 2001? Economic development/urban planning: city leaders all over the world are trying to make their cities into cool places where people enjoy living. We’re blessed to have a strong chance of knowing our city leaders in a small city, such as Tyler. Have you read the Industry Growth Initiative (IGI)? It’s an 84-page document at the City of Tyler website, and its purpose is to guide the city into the Information Economy. Several leading professions are analyzed such as medicine and higher education-two of the stronger industries. I’m known for citing Dr. Richard Florida of the University of Toronto when he says that cities need the 3 T’s: talent, technology, and tolerance www.creativeclass.org

(4A) I became a serious student of Spanish in my mid 30’s-starting in the early 90’s. Spanish is by far the most common foreign language choice in America, but we need students who will study strategic languages such as Chinese and Arabic too. Spanish makes me cool partly because I like a wide range of Spanish music; moreover, that improved my listening comprehension. It’s easy to go to a site like Let’s Sing It.com and download the song lyrics of your choice in English or Spanish. Then I check out newspapers in Spanish too and have a New Year’s resolution to finally watch more Spanish-language TV. I’ve subbed as high as Spanish IV in high school after being a very mediocre Spanish student during my undistinguished undergraduate years.

(4B) For three years I have had a project in which I search for cognates in academic language between English and Spanish among other things. I call it Bilingual Secondary Academic Vocabulary (BSAV). Although taboo in Texas, I just found websites in Washington, DC-The Center for Applied Linguistics and another in Madison, Wisconsin-WIDA–that don’t have problems with secondary-aged youngsters getting a few Spanish footnotes with their studies after fifth grade-beyond the Spanish glossaries in textbooks. Roughly half the states in the US favor bilingual ed. after fifth grade; the closest states to Texas are New Mexico and Oklahoma, and the biggest in population are Illinois, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. So now BSAV is off the “back burner” and maybe ready to make me some money-starting as a unit for Teachers-Pay-Teachers. I’ve enjoyed teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) to all ages and subbed in Bilingual Elementary in the past.

(5) Finally, I love citizen journalism and have published over fifty articles in the last two years in places like hubpage, The Daily You of Tyler, Digital Journal of Canada, and Oh My News of South Korea. Plus I’ve reviewed over 120 articles for Stumbleupon under my online alias: bohemiotx. All you need to be a citizen journalist is good writing skill, fairness, and the desire to verify your sources. I’ll admit that it’s a tough area to earn money. Articles such as “Will Write for Food: The Sad State of Citizen Journalism,” do more than hint at the difficulty. But I feel that citizen journalism may be good padding for my resume as an English instructor. The topics for citizen journalism are limitless. The scope can be the hyperlocal world of one’s neighborhood to the international scene. Sometimes I take a break from technical writing and write food journalism-specifically about taquerias, the traditional Mexican fast food. Have fun with writing; do some fluff. How does “Shopping at Wal-Mart for Under $10”? sound to you. My most successful article was an account of the MLK celebration last year in Tyler. It received over 6000 views from its spot in South Korea at Oh My News, ranking in the top five world-wide for a couple of weeks. Do an Internet search on yourself once you’ve published a lot; you may find that you’ve been blogged in other countries too.

(6A) Last but not least, I love history and the social studies in general. Obviously, I like Black History, or I wouldn’t be writing something for Kwanzaa. I’m certified in Secondary Social Studies but haven’t made as much money with it as my Secondary English Language Arts certification. When we see the emphasis on STEM programs, History and Social Studies seem far away. Math and Science are joined by Technology and Engineering. Good writing won’t go away since you have to communicate those ideas from the big four. One of my favorite acquaintances, George Faber-the Director of Fine Arts and Performing Arts for Tyler ISD, wants to turn STEM into STEAM by putting the arts into the package. Visually attractive text has paramount importance on the Internet; moreover, you can put YouTube video links and audios too-maybe George on the piano!

(6B) So why study history? For starters, you can find information that may be off-limits until your third year of college. Remember the Texas textbook adoption fiasco last spring? The United Nations was denounced and host of other radical right-wing views were endorsed. Through the Internet, you can have a much easier time doing research on your own. What can happen when you study history and the social studies in-depth and write about it? I’m reminded of the Martin Delany story. He was the first Black officer and medical doctor in the USA. Yet Dr. Delany has the chilling distinction of almost being lynched by two very opposite groups. Before the Civil War, some anti-abolitionist whites tried to lynch him in Missouri. After the Civil War, some Southern blacks tried to lynch Dr. Delany because he supported an ex-Confederate officer even though that soldier advocated education for blacks. http://www.libraries.wvu.edu/delany/home.htm

Pep Talk for Writers

This leads me to some points on courage in journalistic criticism that I found in Michael Brenson’s article in The Crisis in Criticism, edited by Marcus Berger. Brenson asserts that the intellectual should not consider anything off limits to “the most rigorous analysis” even faith. Otherwise, the taboo area becomes a festering pool of fear and prejudice. Frankly, I expanded my quotation marks grammar section in part by showing students how they could quote an unknown author or group of people, so they could cite their heroes without being hurt by somebody in authority. Yet Brenson respects faith and acknowledges the limits of analytic language, as well as noting how it can betray the concreteness of experience. For example, a saying by Confucius: “Benevolence without learning becomes simplemindedness,” reminds me of the modern saying, “Don’t let them take your kindness for weakness.”

Furthermore, Brenson admits that critics make mistakes but what matters are six qualities: (1) curiosity, (2) attentiveness, (3) concern, (4) vision, (5) art and language, and (6) the debate a critic makes available. Critics should not only reach out to issues of art of their taste but to that which also makes them afraid or without an answer. Response to the unknown evolves knowledge and makes transformation happen.

Conclusion

An article on gift giving during Kwanzaa by Dr. Karenga appeared in the latest Pulse Tyler. Kwanzaa celebrations should reach children. Presents should include a book and a cultural symbol. Gift giving after Christmas takes advantage of sales.

So this Kwanzaa Unity essay has looked at technology’s ability to further an educational renaissance, together with make you feel cool. We impart knowledge because we care about others. Please view this essay as a call to find some reading material in the tradition of Dr. Karenga.

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The China Study (T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. With Thamas M. Campbell II)

Posted by Rachel Evans on
The China Study (T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. With Thamas M. Campbell II)

The China Study (T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. With Thamas M. Campbell II)

The China Study (T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. With Thamas M. Campbell II)

This book provides some of the findings from a variety of food and nutrition studies. It is intended as an initial step in confronting and dealing with, what the authors call, a toxic food environment in the West. For example, one does not have to look hard to find advertisements for various junk foods. Does anyone think these foods contribute to the overall health of our nation? The major point of the book, though, is not concerned with junk foods, per se. Rather, its scope is more general: the authors provide detailed evidence to show that the whole foods, plant-based diet of the East has significant advantages over our animal based diets of the West.

According to the authors, heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and other diseases of affluence can be linked to our diets. Similarly, and more importantly, the progress of these diseases can be slowed, halted, and even reversed by proper diet. The book presents numerous studies to support this. The most significant study referred to is the China Study, a massive study commissioned in the 1970’s by China’s premier, Chou Enlai, who was dying of cancer. The study was unparalleled in scope funding a survey of death rates for 12 different kinds of cancer for more than 2400 Chinese counties and 880 million citizens.

An international team was put together to analyze the data and the results were consistent with other findings of a variety of other studies presented in the book. Although there is yet much work to do, one finding was repeatedly stressed: there is no special diet that works just for one disease (i.e. cancer) or another (heart disease) but rather a general whole foods, plant-based diet is beneficial for both and for all.

It is worth noting that at the beginning of his career, Dr. Campbell was not a vegetarian. Nor did he change his diet for moral reasons. Rather, he followed where the science led him, and adopted a vegetarian diet for health reasons. He believes in the work he’s done, and is a passionate advocate for change, be it through education or other projects. As he says, scientists owe it to society to provide the best information possible- to observe, ask questions, to form and test hypotheses and to interpret without biases, not to kow tow to people’s perceived biases. According to him, Government is providing poor guidance in this critical area, even actively giving misinformation to satisfy industry interests.

According to the authors, they expect to find resistance every step of the way. The food industry has a lot to lose if we begin switching to a whole foods, plant-based diet, and the status quo of science is always a difficult thing to change.

Ultimately, I found the book well-written and clear, even to a layman like myself. It is well worth the read, especially for those interested in some of the science behind vegetarian diets.

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Narcotics Education: Effective Parenting

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Narcotics Education: Effective Parenting
Narcotics Education: Effective Parenting

Narcotics Education: Effective Parenting

Preventing substance abuse is one major tool in the War On Drugs. Getting into classrooms early, talking to kids, and trying to balance the allure and pull of the streets, are all ways this is being accomplished. This is most effective, when coupled with ongoing parental communication and supervision. Without parents being actively involved, on every level of their children’s lives, the benefits of this early intervention are lessened considerably.

Many parents have adopted a different role from the traditional, and prefer to treat their children as “friends”, like little adults. They feel it’s important to allow them to make their own choices and decisions about everything. The rationale being, they need the “space” to grow and experiment. Other parents are themselves very reluctant to address “hot” issues, for fear of losing their children’s love and trust. This is erroneous thinking, and has led to major problems in many homes across America.

If a parent believes it’s OK to have his child drink at home, or smoke weed because, in the parents opinion it should be legalized, the conditions are ripe for major drug abuse, and other negative behaviors. Being a “buddy” to your kids, is not going to help. Asking your children to behave like model citizens in school, to get good grades and to comport themselves properly, while allowing these behaviors in the home, is hypocritical and damaging.

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The decision to have children should be a considered one. And should include a readiness to assume full responsibility for the child’s welfare and well-being. It means being ready to make hard choices for the child, taking the time to raise them properly and a willingness to learn about issues that are critical to the child’s success in life. Children want and need guidance. They thrive in structured environments, where rules make “sense” to them. Parents are like safety walls they can push against, test and eventually come to feel safe with. This is the true meaning of being a parent. Nowhere, is this more crucial than in narcotics education and prevention.

The very first impressions a child forms about drugs comes from watching his parents. If there is a lot of drinking, and taking of medications, the child then begins to understand this is a normal thing to do. Many parents rush their kids off to doctors at the first sign of a cold or for minor injuries. Some of these kids are constantly medicated for every minor ache or pain. Here the first seeds of addiction are sown. The child becomes programmed to expect relief from a syrup or pill, every time he feels bad. From there, it’s not a huge jump into street drugs, as they grow older.

I explain to my 2 sons, that every medication has an impact on your system. That even OTC drugs are potent, and not to be taken lightly. Aches and pains are treated with a hot shower, massage or sometimes simply by diverting attention away from it. This has had 2 benefits. It is teaching them to view medications with the respect they deserve, and also when they do truly need pain relief or an antibiotic, it works much more effectively, using less medicine. This coupled with making them aware of alternatives to the constant ads for drugs, for every ill we have on earth, has made them much less vulnerable to drug abuse.

It doesn’t end there though. Parents have to be involved with their children’s lives. It is not safe to “assume” your child is doing what he says he’s doing. It is not wise to let your child go “visit” a friend whom you don’t know, and figure he’ll be safe. It is NOT the schools responsibility to raise your child for you. You, the parent, should be the primary source of information and trust. It is from you, they need to learn about life’s dangers, especially drugs. It is from you, and no one else, that guidelines for moral and ethical behavior should come from. Issues like drug abuse, sexuality, gangs, bullying and more need to be a part of regular family discussions. Starting this early, takes it out of the realm of “you better not” into factual and lively family talks. In a healthy family, the “you better nots” are mostly unnecessary, because open honest dialogue is comfortable and easy. The more facts you have, the more resources you use, the more trusting and comfortable the child becomes with you. This makes him much less vulnerable as a result. Confidence in his world and at school is amplified. When he listens to teachers and visiting law enforcement, he then believes he is being told the truth. The pieces fit in a way that makes sense to him.

Holding your child accountable for his behavior is equally important. Again, this has to begin very early. Allowing the child to excuse or rationalize negative behavior is very unhealthy. Even worse, is doing this yourself. Children need to understand that we live by rules and guidelines, That honesty and taking responsibility for our actions is a healthy and good thing to do. Praise and positive reinforcement, each time a child holds himself accountable, is the best way to foster this growth. Children not held to this standard are at risk for negative behavior all through life, and have a poor sense of what it means to be moral thinking beings. Setting clear guidelines for coming home on time, completing schoolwork, homework and introducing friends will help your child make the transition into adulthood much easier. Let the child know you will be calling in to check, and that he is to be where he’s supposed to be. Know his friends and their parents Where they live and their phone numbers. Ask questions. If you have done your job, this will be an accepted, and comfortable part of your child’s life.

But most of all, make certain your children feel safe enough to ask you anything, confident you can answer them honestly and completely. If you can do this, then you have done a good job.

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Deborah Tannen PhD: Linguist And New York Times Bestselling Author

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Deborah Tannen PhD: Linguist And New York Times Bestselling Author

Deborah Tannen PhD: Linguist And New York Times Bestselling Author

Deborah Tannen PhD: Linguist And New York Times Bestselling Author

Before you have another conversation you should read one of Dr. Deborah Tannen’s books on linguistics. Dr. Tannen has multiple degrees in English, English Literature, and both an MA and a PhD in Linguistics. Dr. Tannen has published and lectured extensively around the world. She has also published 10 books for the mainstream audience, defining and decoding the differences in language usage between peers who speak the same language. She demystifies a lot of the reasons that disagreements and misunderstandings may occur between people. The wonderful thing about Deborah Tannens books is that she doesn’t lose the reader in a lot of jargon and she explains the premises for each of her theories in easy to follow language that serves to clarify your understanding of the ways that language is used.

Her books use real world examples to illustrate her points and they also gives the reader some insight into who Deborah Tannen is and why she chose the field that she chose. She already held degrees in both English and English Literature and was compelled to study Linguistics after the break up of her first marriage. Quite simply she and her first husband were always butting heads and getting into arguments and neither of them understood why. In fact she says that at times she wondered if one or both of them were crazy! After her divorce she attended a lecture on Linguistics and reasons for the problems in her marriage suddenly became obvious. Her passion for linguistics was kindled and she went back to school to earn an MA and her PhD. in linguistics from the University of California in Berkley. She currently teaches and lectures at Georgetown University in Washington DC.

She has since lectured extensively, been featured on radio and television shows, written several academic papers and books for scholarly publication, and also has written 10 books for the mainstream audience. When you read on of her books it is almost an epiphany, things become so clear. You begin to understand how people interact and how differences in conversational style can lead to disagreements, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations. Dr Tannen has done in depth research on conversational style and comprehension on mothers and daughters, sisters, siblings, employers and their employees, children, and many other interpersonal dynamics, seeking and then explaining the dynamics that occur in the space between what you said and what the listener thinks that you said. Dr. Tannens books will give anyone a deeper insight into how language affects both our day to day life, our perceptions of people and events, and offers suggestions on how to decode and demystify the art of conversation and interpersonal interaction.

Dr. Tannens books have been extremely well received by the public. Her book You Just Don’t Understand- Women and Men in Conversation (1990) spent four years on the New York Times Bestseller list and was the number one best seller for a whopping 8 months. Since then You Just Don’t Understand has been translated into 30 other languages. She has followed that with several other New York Times bestsellers which have explained and demystified talk and interpersonal interaction for millions of people who had thought that the relationships with their husbands, wives, mothers, mother-in-laws, bosses, and children were hopeless.

Since conversation happens everyday, there is no way that you can read one of her books before you engage in your next conversation or argument, however her books are still available in bookstores everywhere in multiple different languages and you can find both new and used copies of her books on sites like Amazon.com and even Ebay. I encourage anyone who has ever held a meaningful conversation with another person and had it go awry of what they intended to seek out and purchase one of Dr. Tannen’s books as soon as is possible. You will be glad that you did, and you will understand how language and imagery are related and how they affect your day-to-day communication with others, and what can be done to remedy a lot of rifts in a number of interpersonal relationships.

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How Technology is Changing Education

Posted by Rachel Evans on
How Technology is Changing Education

Most people know intuitively that the educational process is being impacted by new technology, but many may not realize the subtle ways it has been woven into our society. Most would agree that the Internet, for example, has greatly reduced the amount of time and effort required to write a research or term paper-but what about claims that technology such as smartphones are reducing attention spans leading to less qualified graduates? Such changes are difficult to discern, but a lot of researchers are looking into the impact technology is having on the educational system and at ways to make it for the better.

First, the down side-several prominent researchers studying the impact of cell phone use and video game playing on modern children have come to a consensus: it really does lead to reduced attention spans which ultimately result in less being learned both in school and at home. It also leads to faster teacher burnout as it becomes more difficult to get and hold student’s attention. One bright note is that some of the researchers suggest that instead of resorting to more entertaining teaching techniques, teachers look to new technological ways to reach their students. One of those ways might be through the use of other technology. Textbooks on tablet computers, is one example. More and more schools are doing so because of the obvious advantages: up to date information, animated graphics, sound capabilities, embedded learning applications, etc.

Another way that educators are using new technology is by taking advantage of the Internet. In a recent research project, Henry Jay Becker, conducted a massive study of teacher habits focusing most specifically on how they are using the Internet. He found that teachers are using email and texting as a means of communicating with students and parents-they’re using Facebook and other social media as well. He also found that many are using cloud data depositories to share papers, graphics, video and other classroom material and that some are also using interactive applications developed specifically for children at various grade levels. In summing up, he concludes that new technology is adding richness to the learning experience and that both teachers and students are receiving great benefit from it.

Technological change isn’t limited to just children, of course, college educators and students are being impacted as well. Universities now offer degrees online and student/instructor interactions via the Internet are now the norm. Furthermore, students have access to higher quality and more up to date research in their chosen field than at any other time in history. The most profound changes are in taking place in ways that researchers call “disrupting the classroom.” This means that instead of giving or listening to boring lectures, students interact with both instructors and automated lessons. Instructors monitor the pace of learning and offer guidance along the way rather than read from notes. The new method is believed to be more engaging, rewarding and in the end, a more pleasant experience for both instructor and student.

What cannot be discerned at this time, of course, is whether students are better or worse off than generations that have come before them. The new technology is still too new to tell. That will change of course as time passes and today’s students make their way into the work force-future research on how well they are doing will be the ultimate measure.